At the eleventh hour that Law Society of Tasmania has sent all Tasmanian MPs an eleven page letter summarizing their concerns about the Giddings/McKim to be debated this afternoon.
The letter is critical of the misrepresentations in the media this past few weeks about the protections doctors enjoy in carrying out their important work with their patients at the end of life. They go to great length to describe the law in relation to medical intervention as well as a patient's right to refuse treatment. They observe that 'Media attention to this issue can confuse the issue of withdrawal of burdensome and futile treatment with the issue of euthanasia.'
The law group claims that, 'the Bill suffers from fundamental drafting errors', 'the Bill could be completely defective in achieving its purpose' and 'could imply restrictions on a medical practitioner's ability to withdraw burdensome and futile treatment.'
They further observe that 'because the requirements for recording the initial oral request (for euthanasia) are quite lax,'that 'compliance with this provision cannot be assured from the terms of the Bill.' This is a recognition that vulnerable people could well be abused.
In respect to disability, they note that the extant definition of disability in the State's Anti-Discrimination Act would encompass a great many of the illnesses for which people might seek to access the euthanasia provisions. This they say, has the effect, 'to render the whole bill futile.'
The Law Society points out, and it is worth noting here, that they do not have a moral or ethical position on this bill; they simply observe the problems.
As one commentator observed today; if it took two years to create this bill with its attendant risks and drafting problems, perhaps the Tasmanian Parliament should mandate a minimum of three years development before debating the next attempt. Just sayin'!